ISLAM UNDER FIRST FOUR CALIPHS 31
entire success, had been Caliph for ten years and, although
sixty years old, was still full of energy when an assassin's
knife laid him low. A Persian slave, known as Abu
Lulu, complained to the Caliph that he was assessed too
heavily by his master at two dirhems a day. Omar, who
knew the man, replied that for a clever artificer like him,
who was believed to be able to construct a mill driven by
wind,1 the amount was not excessive. Abu Lulu made a
threatening reply, and the following morning stabbed the
Caliph while he was leading the prayers in the mosque.
Thus died the greatest Moslem after the founder of
the religion himself, a man of courage, simplicity, sagacity,
and a passion for justice and duty,2 a combination of
qualities which eminently fitted him to control the
destinies of Islam during the critical decade of conquest.
Nevertheless in Persia the name of Omar is execrated,
and the anniversary of his death is celebrated as a day of
rejoicing by Persians. Until recently they were accus-
tomed to burn the effigy of the Caliph who conquered
The Accession of Othman, A.H. 24 (644).—Omar upon
his death-bed expressed the wish that Abd-al-Rahman
should be his successor, but he refused, and the matter
was referred to a body of electors. In the end, how-
ever, Abd-al-Rahman was permitted to make the choice.
For long he wavered between AH and Othman, but!
finally declared the latter to be the Caliph. Othman'si
reign lasted for twelve years, but from the outset it was
clear that he did not possess the necessary qualities for
dealing effectively with a difficult situation. Even under
the iron rule of Omar it was impossible to curb the
insubordinate spirit shown by the Arabs of Kufa and
Basra. The best hope lay in maintaining the prestige of
the Kureish tribe, but this powerful instrument was
weakened through the impolicy of Othman, who favoured
his own branch, the Omayyad, with the result that the
influence of the Kureish was paralysed by divisions which
were widened by lapse of time,
1 This is believed to be the earliest mention of a windmill. Vide also Chapter I» 1?
2 It was a favourite maxim of Omar's that " the most miserable Governor is he *
whose subjects are miserable."